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The “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Don’t Say” Game


It’s been a tough week with lots of teen angst here at the David house. Very challenging. Lots of doors slamming. Lots of opportunities to escalate arguments (I succeeded beautifully on that front), lots of chances to say the wrong thing, and have feelings hurt (mine included). Lots of eye rolls and scowls. Exam week added more tension, stress and late nights trying to learn the nervous system and the names of the aortae. But luckily, there is always dinner to try to make things right.

Family dinner tonight included long time family friend Marty Short (never a bad idea to invite a professional comedian to your table if you can!) who, when he arrived, mentioned that Larry had just called him and wondered about dinner. So we called Larry, and he was sitting at the table eight minutes later in between our daughter and my boyfriend. Dinner started at 6:30 and ended at 8 thanks to Marty who is the king of great after dinner table games. He taught me “Oh Hell” and “I Never” (both in the book!) and this great new one tonight called IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, ITS WHAT YOU (BUZZER!) DON’T SAY. 

Here’s how you play: First, you divide into two teams. A leader from each team confers and comes up with a famous name (for example, Lucille Ball). The first team gives one clue using no proper names, no rhymes, no direct clues about the person (so you couldn’t say, “She was a comedian”). But instead, you might say…..”There is a round thing that bounces on the ground and it is called a ____________ ” or “If it doesn’t fit tight, it fits_____________”  If the team guesses it right away, they get ten points. If not, the other team goes and if they get it, nine points… back and forth for this round. After the famous name is guessed, another leader from each team comes up with the name and a new round begins. 

We had a great time around the table playing this one and tons of laughs. Not only was it fun, it was an enormous relief to me to have my 16 year old participating, laughing and contributing. When Larry and Marty left, everyone retreated to their own corners (I mean rooms) and the night dissolved. But like I say in the book, at least we had that time together. Once again, the dinner table worked some magic, bringing us all together, one large happy family… for at least some part of the evening. Amen.



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4 Responses

  1. Agn says:

    I completely understand how your everyday life is going….I have a girl of 17 and a young man of 20. Not so easy here to get the family togtehr due to hobbies, excuses not to participate etc etc. Also that we have no routines and no tradition of good tasteful dinners. Is it too late ?

    • Laurie David says:

      It’s never too late to start rituals! But you highlight for everyone why it’s so critical. My advice? Start tonight. Do something simple and easy and announce at the table that your new family ritual has begun. Your kids are old enough even to be put in charge of a meal or two. Give them the assignment for dinner Sunday night and let us know how it goes!

  2. Alison says:

    It’s a relief to hear that other families struggle with the same issues…Thanks for letting us peek into this window of your life.

    I love the game and can’t wait to play it with my own family.

    • Laurie David says:

      Not a day goes by… believe me. The dinner has been my rescue. By the time we start eating and playing word games, a whole new mood has developed. Played the game Marty taught us at a potluck. Huge hit for all ages!

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